Letter shares teacher’s inspiration
Ngaire Taikato is passionate about teaching, often going above and beyond the call of duty.
Now that commitment has been rewarded with the title of one of New Zealand’s most inspiring teachers.
The competition was run by Warehouse Stationery, which called for students to write a letter about an inspiring teacher, and thanks to Caedin Taumata, Mrs Taikato is one of 30 teachers to make the grade.
‘‘I’m absolutely rapt. [His letter] just bought tears to my eyes. He’s very quiet, very humble, he’s an awesome kid. I just think it was gorgeous,’’ Mrs Taikato said.
Caedin wrote: ‘‘ She [Mrs Taikato] is going through a hard time . . . but she still comes to school and makes us all feel special’’.
He wrote that Mrs Taikato was always laughing and joking and taught the children they could laugh at themselves, and despite all the extra things she did, ‘‘she is still a great teacher and has time for us’’.
Mrs Taikato is a mother of two, teaches a class of 28, and is involved with all school activities including sport, music, choir and cultural groups. She also runs a yearly production which the children perform at the local theatre.
‘‘Performing arts has always been my way to launch a child, as far as their self- esteem and confidence is concerned. It’s just an area where they can enjoy success and then that success spills over into the classroom.’’
She encourages the children to work with each other, ‘‘peer tutoring’’ and conferencing on their work, and uses real- world ideas to teach and to reward behaviour. She gives the children ‘‘money’’ in lots of 50, 100 or even 1000 if they have behaved especially well, and they keep track of each transaction therefore practising maths.
Each fortnight they use the money to bid on auctions, usually toys or art supplies bought by Mrs Taikato. The children soon came up with an idea to have prizes that didn’t cost her money and now bid on such things as a day at the teacher’s desk.
Previously a Maori language teacher, Mrs Taikato speaks Maori with the children every day and they are starting to use it in their own conversations.
The hard times Caedin wrote about, involve Mrs Taikato’s mother, who is battling cancer.
‘‘I had to share that with them. I said, ‘If you see me crying don’t freak out, I’ll just be thinking about Mum’. Sometimes I’ll be singing or reading a story and it pulls on the heartstrings and a few tears start to fall, and a couple of them will come and pat my back and not a word is said.’’
Yet despite the relationship with her students and the high praise they give her, she said it’s just the way she’s always been.
‘‘I don’t know about this word ‘ inspirational’, though, because everything I’ve done has always been for the kids and it will always be that way.’’
Mrs Taikato’s achievement will be recognised during a special school assembly.
SIMPLY THE BEST: Ngaire Taikato of Strathmore School, Tokoroa has won a prize for one of the county’s most inspirational teachers after being nominated by one of her students, Caedin Taumata, 10.